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Eclipse, Dolores Claiborne and being a bitch


Great American Eclipse happened yesterday. A total solar eclipse that was visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast (and only visible as a partial eclipse in other countries).

The previous time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was during the June 8, 1918, eclipse, and not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. The path of totality touched 14 states, although a partial eclipse was visible in all fifty states, but what about the natural phenomenon and its depiction in fiction?

Well… Let’s talk about that now that it’s all done. I mean the eclipse.

Sure solar or lunar eclipses have been source material, themes and inspirations in plenty of paintings, books, songs (Total eclipse of the heart…. rings a bell?) but I want to talk about (you’ve guest it) the movies.

And especially a movie that’s one of my favorites. Not just a favorite Stephen King film adaptation, not just favorite Jennifer Jason Leigh or Kathy Bates movie. Truly one of my favorite movies EVER! Dolores Claiborne.

The solar eclipse is one of the subplots in the movie and integral part of the film’s ending. Without going into spoiler territory, the eclipse that’s in Taylor Hackford’s movie is like the one USA saw yesterday. Total and set during summertime. And in Dolores Claiborne, it was shown in the flashback scenes and from the main character’s narrative story.

Even now 22 years after the release, Dolores Claiborne holds 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Bates’s portrayal of the titular characters is still praised and remembered. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and praised the performances of Bates and Leigh, saying:

“This is a horror story, all right, but not a supernatural one; all of the elements come out of such everyday horrors as alcoholism, wife beating, child abuse and the sin of pride.

Dolores Claiborne is Kathy Bates’s favorite movie of her entire career, and the woman won an Oscar before making it. Admittedly it was adapted few years after Stephen King’s Misery, but nothing can match Dolores Claiborne. Castle Rock bought the rights to Stephen King’s novel for $1.5 million, and the rest is history. Well, several things had to be arranged before, and one of those things includes the casting of the supporting characters. One of the most compelling presence in the entire movie is Judy Parfitt in the role of Vera Donovan. Judy Parfitt was actually recommended for the role of Vera by director Taylor Hackford’s wife, Helen Mirren.

Parfitt, who had largely confined her career to the stage, but was virtually unknown to film audiences at the time. After she auditioned with Kathy Bates, Bates reportedly turned to Hackford and gasped “Who was that?” They agreed to cast Parfitt on the spot, and the best quotes were quite unforgettable hers.

Sometimes, Dolores… sometimes, you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive. Sometimes, being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto.

So… After all the excitement about the eclipse subdues and settles down, why don’t you treat yourself with a great movie that depicts an actual eclipse? Dolores Claiborne is truly something special.

Kinda like the event that we witnessed don’t you think?


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